UpdateUS president pledges federal help in wake of fertilizer plant blast

18 April 2013 17:45  [Source: ICIS news]

President pledges federal assistance in wake of West explosionHOUSTON (ICIS)--US President Barack Obama offered sympathy and federal support on Thursday to those killed and injured in the wake of a fertilizer plant explosion Wednesday evening at a retail distribution facility in the Texas community of West.  

Authorities said between five and 15 people were killed in blast and an estimated 160 were injured. The explosion caused widespread destruction in the town of 2,800 residents located about 75 miles south of Dallas.

The accident occurred at West Fertilizer, which according to company information operates as a distributor and in addition to mixing dry fertilizer had storage capacities that contain anhydrous ammonia.

Authorities said it is unclear at this time what caused the fire that led to the explosion.

White House officials said Obama had spoke with Texas Governor Rick Perry early Thursday to assure Perry and the citizens of Texas that the federal government and its full resources would be available to assist with the tragedy unfolding in central Texas.

“Today our prayers go out to the people of West, Texas in the aftermath of last night’s deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant. A tight-knit community has been shaken, and good, hard-working people have lost their lives," Obama said. "I want to thank the first responders who worked tirelessly through the night to contain the situation and treat the wounded."

“My administration, through [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] and other agencies, is in close contact with our state and local partners on the ground to make sure there are no unmet needs as search and rescue and response operations continue," the president said. "West is a town that many Texans hold near and dear to their hearts, and as residents continue to respond to this tragedy, they will have the support of the American people.”

According to the latest information from the Waco Police Department, the blast, which registered a 2.1 magnitude on the US Geological Survey’s Richter Scale, has damaged or destroyed at least 50 to 75 homes and surrounding businesses.

Some of the dwellings are reported as being levelled, while other buildings have suffered broken windows and structural damage.

As of late morning, rescue workers were still on the ground in West searching house to house in attempt to locate and rescue anybody who may have been injured, killed or trapped in the debris.

The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is sending a team to the site, and according to the agency the team should be arriving later Thursday afternoon to begin its investigation.

By: Mark Milam
+1 713 525 2653

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